City Planning

New York City’s Department of City Planning Hires First COO

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 9.59.54 AM

New York City’s Department of City Planning has hired its first chief operating officer from the private-sector to enhance efficiency.

First reported by Crain’s New York, Jon Kaufman was appointed to become the agency’s first chief operating officer yesterday. He will report directly to City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod. Mr. Kaufman is a former partner at Bain & Co., a prominent international consulting firm. He has a Masters of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Bachelors in Urban Studies and Economics from Northwestern University. Read More

Parks and Recreation

Port Authority, BID Open Plazas by Holland Tunnel

Freeman Plaza

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district opened a pair of new public green spaces today named Freeman Plaza East and North in formerly-vacant lots on Varick Street between Broome and Watts Streets along approaches to the Holland Tunnel.

The two Port Authority-owned spots that have trees, seating and tables where a chain link fence used to surround an empty lot transformed under a combined partnership between the BID, the Port Authority, city agencies and the Trinity Real Estate company, said Ellen Baer, president of Hudson Square Connection. Read More


NYU President, Opponents Clash Ahead of Lawsuit Appeal

NYU rendering

A week before the city and opponents of New York University’s 1.9-million-square-foot expansion plans in Greenwich Village will make oral arguments in court, NYU President John Sexton reaffirmed the vision behind the four buildings of classrooms, offices and dorms slated for a site bound by LaGuardia Place, Houston Street, Mercer Street and West 3rd Street south of Washington Square Park.

Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills ruled in January that part of the university’s designs for the two “superblocks” require approval from the State Legislature due to its use of land currently occupied by playgrounds and open spaces that have, in effect, become public parks. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Manhattan Condo Developer Receives Construction Loan for Chelsea Conversion

Rendering of West 19th Street.

Manhattan condominium developer Six Sigma received a $29 million acquisition and construction loan from Knighthead Funding, LLC to finance the conversion of an office building in Chelsea to luxury residential condos, Mortgage Observer has learned.

The site at 435 West 19th Street between Ninth and Tenth avenues, one block from the Highline, is currently occupied by a five-story, 21,800-square-foot office building, which will be converted into a nine-story, 27,500-square-foot residential condo property. The completed asset will contain a private swimming pool in each condominium unit, according to Johnny Wan, managing director of Six Sigma. Read More

Lease Beat

Women’s Healthcare Network Opening in Harlem [Updated]

1845 Adam Clayton Powell   Jr. Boulevard.

Trinity Women’s Care will be coming to 1845 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard between 112 and 113th Streets.

The women’s healthcare network has leased a 1,325-square-foot space at a rent of $40 per square foot, according to the spokeswoman for the landlord’s brokers, Douglas Elliman‘s Faith Hope Consolo, Joseph Aquino and Arthur Maglio. John Masserano of Masserano Real Esate and Consulting represented the tenant. Read More

The Plan

The Plan: The Brooklyn Whale Building

The Whale Building.

The Brooklyn Whale Building, a 400,000-square-foot industrial property along the Sunset Park waterfront, is being redesigned for commercial tenants, especially those in the tech, media and creative arts fields.

Boddewyn Gaynor Architects is working on the $5 million renovation of the seven-floor, full-block former Whale Oil Company headquarters at 14 53rd Street. 601 West Associates, headed by Harry Skydell, acquired the site in 2011 for $25.4 million and the renovations commenced about two years ago. Read More

Power Broker

David Ehrenberg On Overseeing the Brooklyn Navy Yard

David Ehrenberg. (Lea Rubin Photography)

The first thing David Ehrenberg sees as he approaches his workplace, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is Building 77. In his rearview mirror, the last thing Mr. Ehrenberg sees as he departs each day is that 960,000-square-foot under-construction building.

“That creates a level of ownership,” said Mr. Ehrenberg last week as he gave Commercial Observer a tour of the 300-acre waterfront industrial campus that the city owns and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Corporation manages. That sense of ownership is one of the aspects of the job that piqued Mr. Ehrenberg’s interest when he was tapped for the president and chief executive officer positions at the non-profit organization by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the summer of 2013. He was then reappointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Read More

Brooklyn Issue

Brooklyn Brokers Closing High-Profit Flips

76-80 Meserole Street

This flip shows the borough’s flip. Nestled among stops for four different subway lines and the seven-building, 2,702-unit Lindsay Park affordable apartments, the recently completed 49-unit multifamily rental building at 76-80 Meserole Street boasts a valuable position in the southern section of East Williamsburg.

Last May, that set-up paid off to the tune of an 85 percent gain on investment for its 2012 buyer, a return that illustrates the value-added potential for properties in Brooklyn’s booming markets. Cornell Realty Management sold the property to New York Mets executives Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz’s Sterling Equities for $36 million this past spring after buying it 16 months earlier for $19.4 million. Read More

Sales Beat

Brooklyn Public Library Reveals Plan to Replace Aging Library with Condo Tower

280 Cadman Plaza West

A new condo tower could rise at the site of current Brooklyn Heights Library at at 280 Cadman Plaza West, as part of a redevelopment proposal that would net the library system $40 million to bestow upon struggling branches.

First reported by Capital New York, the decrepit, cash-strapped branch may be replaced with a 21,000-square-foot space in the base of the condo tower. The library would be one of the largest in the Brooklyn system, but will be significantly smaller than the 60,000 square foot library currently on the site (BPL contends that much of the current space is not being used; additionally a business and career library will be moved to another site). Read More

Construction Reports

Report: NYC Higher Learning Sector to Spend $10B on Construction

NYC Building Congress report

New York City’s 105 colleges and universities will invest $9.85 billion in construction of new and improved academic facilities between 2013 and 2017, according to a report released this morning by the New York Building Congress at an event at New York University.

The city’s colleges, graduate schools, professional schools and medical schools, a group that, at 534,710 students, commands a total enrollment that’s larger than the population of Atlanta, will provide an economic boon that’s more than double the $4.2 billion the higher education sector spent on 463 construction projects over the previous five years, the report by the group that promotes the design, construction and real estate industry says. Read More

Brooklyn Issue

Two Years After the Barclays Center Opened, Which Local Businesses Have Won and Lost?

Barclays Center

When the Barclays Center opened in Downtown Brooklyn two years ago, some thought the arena would reinvigorate a section of the borough that had yet to capitalize on its potential, while others believed the neighborhood’s small businesses would meet their demise.

As the arena prepares to celebrate its second anniversary and host an expected 300 events annually, the impact it has had on small businesses appears to be mixed. Some of the stores that survived the seismic shift brought by the 18,000-seat venue report an uptick in patronage, while others remain unaffected. Read More

The Sit-Down

Rising Broker, Rising Markets: Derek Bestreich of Marcus & Millichap

Derek Bestreich

The success of Derek Bestreich’s eight-member investment sales team at Marcus & Millichap’s Brooklyn office embodies that of the borough’s next emerging markets. The group overseen by the married 32-year-old Park Slope resident closes sales in neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush that represent the next wave of booming Brooklyn real estate. The University of Texas graduate with Queens roots began his career in New York City shortly after college as a cellular lease buyer for an asset-backed securities company, where he was cold-calling potential sellers and “hoofing it miles a day,” he said.

He started at Marcus & Millichap in 2009. The winner of the firm’s national achievement award for 2014, Mr. Bestreich also won his office’s rookie of the year and mentor of the year awards. Commercial Observer visited the firm’s Downtown Brooklyn office to talk with the broker who closed 90 investment properties in rising Brooklyn markets for a total of $185 million in transactions from 2009 to the summer of 2014, according to the company. Read More

Brooklyn Issue

Vice’s Grip on Williamsburg Reflects Changes in Gentrifying Neighborhood

49 South Second Street

Too many employees needing more space in the right neighborhood is a perpetual New York commercial real estate conundrum. Perhaps no tale illustrates this quandary in 21st century Brooklyn quite like media powerhouse Vice’s relocation to its new office space on Williamsburg’s south side.

Already based in Williamsburg, Vice had been searching for space in the ballpark of 50,000 square feet for 18 months, and its quest was becoming dire. Because of its branding strategy and target demographic, Vice was unlikely to find a space meeting its needs in the marble tiled buildings of Madison Avenue or the Financial District’s steel skyscrapers. Brooklyn, and more specifically Williamsburg, would be a far better fit for the international media company that has been called “basically a millennial whisperer.” Read More

Mortgage Observer

North Carolina Mall Loan Hits Delinquency Status for First Time

Independence Mall.

A $100 million securitized J.P. Morgan loan on Independence Mall in Wilmington, N.C., was reported as 30 days delinquent, according to September servicer data obtained and provided by Trepp. The borrower entity is listed in the deal prospectus as Centro Independence LLC.

Sears, Dillard’s, Belk and JCPenney anchor the one million-square-foot regional shopping center at 3500 Oleander Drive, property records show. The first three retailers own their parcels. Read More